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Lucas HamonSep 8, 2016 11:47:07 AM12 min read

Why You Should Stop Hiring Sales People to Grow Your Business

If you're thinking about hiring another salesperson to grow your business, perhaps you should visit these other areas first.

Do you want to grow your business, but you're finding that the usual tactics aren't working very well?

I just got off the phone with one of my favorite clients, for whom we are working on their website using the GDD methodology (more HERE), as well as implementing an inbound marketing campaign, and sales enablement services. My role is mostly focused on the sales piece, while the marketing team handles everything else.

Anyhow, the conclusion I came to after speaking with her today (what inspired me to write this article, even), and after spending more than a decade in business development myself, is that sales people aren't what you really need to grow your business.

B2B... B2C... It doesn't really matter. Hiring sales "experts" won't help you the way you think they will help you.

It was an accident.

I graduated from college in 2001, just three months before 9/11, which, of course, led to the worst economic conditions we'd ever seen. Before the planes hit, I had moved to Las Vegas, so I could focus on my film career (it's a long story... one for another day), and it was in September, just days before the tragedy, that I made the realization that I needed to get a real job to pay the bills while I tried to get my career off the ground.

So, I found a gig as a cashier at The Discovery Channel store at the Caesar's Palace Forum Shops. It was actually the ONLY job I could find at the time, because people stopped traveling to Las Vegas after the planes hit, and there were literally 10s of thousands of people subsequently laid off.

It was never my intention to get into sales, just like it was never the intention of my staffing client to run HER sales desk this late in the game, but it turns out it was the right move... for all of us.

Here are the 4 reasons why

(MORE LIKE THIS: 5 Sales & Marketing Objectives that Align Your Business)

1. We don't lead with a sales pitch

I wasn't a salesperson. I don't even really consider myself to be one now. The whole "elevator pitch" thing makes my skin crawl. The same goes for my staffing client. But for some reason we both do well with business development.

When I was in retail, people would come into the Discovery Channel Store to kill time between the Atlantis animatronics/laser shows that took place right in front of our entrance. They weren't there to buy anything, certainly not premium ticket items like the telescopes we were pushing. Who goes to Vegas to buy a telescope, anyway?

Being the anti-salesperson that I was, I immediately despised the quotas that were required of us, because I felt that it forced us to focus on the wrong things. I wasn't good at following rules anyway, so I dismissed it. I was just there to make some money, and to be honest, I wanted to play with the toys all day and get paid for it.

So, when the store emptied out during the laser shows, I would read the instructions to the different products we carried while my colleagues... well, I'm not actually sure what they were up to, but it wasn't reading manuals. When people walked back in, I would show them some of the cool things I learned. The next thing I knew, we were moving $5,000 telescopes, and selling out of our $40 LED flashlights - a feat that no other "sales" rep had been able to accomplish in all of the years prior to my arrival.

For my staffing client, prior to hiring a salesperson a little over a year ago, she, the CEO, was solely responsible for bringing in new business. She always had a dark cloud hanging over her confidence levels, because she never considered herself a salesperson. Obviously, the difference here is that it's HER business, so failure isn't an option. For me, it was.

But this is why she ended up hiring somebody. She wanted to grow, and felt that hiring a sales person would do it.

Now, don't get me wrong, we have had to iron out some issues in her process to make her better at selling, but she was a lot more successful prior to hiring that guy, and since letting him go, and digging back into it herself, she has bounced back.

When I first got in there and we started scratching the surface, I noticed how intelligent and personable she was. People don't feel like she's pitching anything... because she's not. She doesn't know how to pitch. She networks, and if she's able to get time in front of a prospect, she usually gets the job orders, because she came up with a methodology that works, and all she does is educate them on the different reasons why they came up with it.

The guy she hired, however, blasted out cold calls based on quotas, and that's all he did. Pitch, pitch, pitch... In the 8 months he was there, he landed one client. A big one, sure, but just one. And he didn't manage it afterward, and certainly didn't expand it once inside. She did all of that.

(MORE LIKE THIS: 5 B2B Marketing Strategies that will Ignite Your Sales Process)

2. Your process is likely where your issues lie

My retail example is really simple in this regard. Everybody else stood around, waiting for people to approach the counter to buy their products. They waited for people to ask them questions, or they would approach customers and say, "Is there anything I can help you find?" Then, when they were ready to check out, they would push the impulse items.

The problem is that most customers who are shopping don't KNOW what they are looking for, and it's our job to help them figure that out. By showing people cool things that I discovered in the manuals I read, they were able to discover them too, and suddenly they were envisioning using the products or giving them as gifts.

For my B2B staffing client, and all of my other B2B clients today, actually, the sales process is a little trickier. Yes, leading with education and a more consultative approach is important for getting off on the right foot. However, it doesn't end there.

We ended up breaking down her process to the granular level, so we could identify where the bottlenecks were occurring. What we discovered is that there were a few areas that needed tweaking, and had she hired her sales person AFTER making those adjustments, the results would have been much different. Some of these adjustments could only be discovered with her in that role (like her pricing model). It helped having me in there to bounce off of, but she needed to discover these things first-hand. (learn more about our sales enablement services HERE)

One of our bigger issues is that she wasn't spending time in front of the actual decision-makers. Yes, she was building great relationships with VPs, and high-level positions that HAD to give their blessing in order to work with them, however, they weren't the ones with the direct needs feeling the direct pain. It was their project leads we should have been talking to, which was two levels DOWN the chain. (SIMILAR: How to Sell Staffing Services from the Top Down: Be Different)

So, during our role-play jam session, we talked about ways to leverage her existing relationships to get introductions to the people who WERE making the final decisions.

And it worked. After 2 years of courting this company with nothing but "purple squirrel" job orders that her team would break their backs trying to fill unsuccessfully, she was actually able to pull open fillable orders, and within 2 weeks was able to get her first job offer.

Her original process got her 75% of the way there, but it wasn't until these few minor adjustments that she was able to make real headway with this important prospect.

The guy that she hired was a sales dynamo in his past life, but the best salespeople don't necessarily make the best managers or strategists, and vice verse. It was clear that it was a little too loose for a guy like him. He was used to cold-call quotas and a rigid sales process.

3. They don't care about your success

Here's the thing - nobody really cares about your success, not the way you do, anyhow. Not your sales people, not your customers... nobody. I'm sure this isn't news.

But it's why having an air-tight process is important. Not only is it going to provide the framework you and your salespeople need to close more deals, but it's also going to make succession planning and oversight a lot easier.

The reality is that there will be turnover, and there's nothing you can do to eliminate that. The grass is always greener on the other side, after all. So, going back to what I was saying before, your sales process should be tight, and it should be easy to plug somebody in at any point.

For my staffing client, succession planning is at the root of every one of our conversations. She's growing, and now that these adjustments are paying off, she has to shift her focus to fulfillment. But that leaves us vulnerable on the sales side.

For my days at the Discovery Channel Store, management recognized what I was doing, and wanted me to spread the love, so they could do it everywhere else. I've had other jobs where they were so obstinate about changing their processes, they refused to let me help implement them in a more far-reaching manner. When I left those places, everything I created left with me.

4. Your leads are suffering

There is no doubt in my mind that the Discovery Channel store I worked at was in a prime location because of the show. Traffic was high. Sure, conversions were low prior to my arrival, but that was more of a process issue.

At one point they sent me to their store at the Aladdin, because they were having sales challenges. The difference there was that the Aladdin hotel, casino, and resort was a complete failure on its own. Nobody went there, which meant that there was no foot traffic for the stores in the mall. Well, it wasn't zero, but it was about a tenth of what the other store was getting.

So, I did my thing, and I even made a Babe Ruth announcement, stating that I was going to sell all 25 of their $40 flashlights in my 8 hour shift, and that MOST of them would be add-ons to other purchases.

Within 4 hours, we were calling our other stores asking for their flashlights, because we were completely out. $1,000 in four hours, mostly added on to other purchases, typically doubling or tripling the amount they would have spent otherwise.

Although it was a great story, that's where we hit our limit. We simply didn't have enough people coming in to do any more than that.

With my staffing client, it's the same thing. As I mentioned before, she gets her customers through networking... which is great, but it's grind, and sucks away a lot of resources, forcing us to make choices where it feels like we're putting all of our eggs into one basket. And now that she's forced to shift her focus on fulfillment, we have this gap that we're going to feel in 6 weeks when the existing challenges are over, and she has to start the networking grind all over again.

One of the more important aspects of managing a healthy sales pipeline is to always be filling it with new opportunities. Always. The minute we stop or there's turnover, we create a window in the future where NOTHING will be happening.

And this goes for any type of lead or sales effort. When I ran a sales desk for a staffing agency it was the same as when I was working in a similar role for a tax advisory firm. I knew that my efforts TODAY would pay off in 6 - 8 weeks. And the minute I was forced to pull back the lever on my efforts to bring in new opportunities because I needed to focus on deals that were about to close, I KNEW I would be in trouble within the next two months.

When we approach sales with a pure outbound mindset, this is the vicious cycle we ALL get caught in. Period.

The reason why my staffing client originally engaged our firm was to solve this specific problem. She wanted leads coming to her in a manner that was sustainable, predictable, and automated. It's actually the number one reason why business owners come to me.

With inbound marketing, executed according to the rules of industry leaders like Darmesh Shah, Brian Halligan, and Rand Fishkin, you attract people to your website, convert them into leads through content offers, and nurture them through automation. Sales and marketing are fused together, and it's no longer the sole responsibility of your sales people to unearth new opportunities.

See what an inbound lead looks like HERE:

See what all the fuss is about with those juicy inbound marketing leads!

The pipeline stays full because quality foot traffic to your website steadily grows, and IT makes the introductions for your business, which means visitors will turn into opportunities even when everybody who works for you is at home for the holidays.


I see this phenomena happen all the time. Sales start dipping, so the first thought is to bring in new sales people. Then begins the cycle of increasing turnover, and years upon years of a growing feeling that if you want it done right, you're going to have to do it yourself.

That's a shitty place to be in for any business owner. I don't mean to be crass, but it's true. I hear it in your voices, and I see it in your sales figures. For many of you it's time to take a step back and uncover the real reasons why you're having these challenges before making that business development hire.

Maybe it's your sales process. Maybe it's your leads. Maybe you're just hiring the wrong people. Maybe it's all three. Click here to learn more about sales enablement:

Sales enablement services


Lucas Hamon

Over 10 years of B2B sales experience in staffing, software, consulting, & tax advisory. Today, as CEO, Lucas obsesses over inbound, helping businesses grow! Husband. Father. Beachgoer. Wearer of plunging v-necks.